Reese Isbell
Reese Isbell
Associate Director, Government Relations

Local governmental bodies (city, county, regional) are increasingly having an impact on the health and growth of our life science industry. CLSA provides representation and ongoing dialogue between the industry, local elected officials, and other members of the Bay Area’s communities.

Drug Takeback and Extended Producer Responsibility Legislation

Bay Area county governments continue to pursue legislation regarding the concept of extended producer responsibility (EPR). These county ordinances require drug manufacturers to implement and fund programs for collecting and disposing of leftover drugs not used by consumers. With the May decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to deny review of the case (Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, et al., Petitioners v. County of Alameda, California, et al.) an increase in the number of counties considering their own version of this proposal has been seen. Current examples include:

In 2015, the counties of San Francisco (March), San Mateo (April), and Santa Clara (June) have each passed their own version of the 2012 Alameda ordinance—quickly and unanimously. Each of these four counties is now beginning its implementation stage with the green light from the Supreme Court.

Marin’s Board President has directed the county’s legal counsel to draft language which is expected to be presented to the Board this summer. Sonoma and Mendocino Counties held a joint “Safe Medicine Disposal Program Symposium” where future legislation in these two counties were discussed. Contra Costa has held early investigation meetings for such an ordinance.

Outside the Bay Area, the Counties of Santa Barbara and Los Angeles are in initial conversations about potential drug takeback proposals based on the current Bay Area models. Separately, a regional waste management system in San Luis Osbispo has passed its own unique ordinance based specifically on retailers.

CLSA is actively engaged in educating local government officials and stakeholders on the adverse effects take-back proposals such as this will have on the life sciences innovation ecosystem.

Tax laws and regulations

The City and County of San Francisco passed a business tax overhaul from a payroll method to a gross receipts method in November of 2012. CLSA continues to work with City Hall to ensure that revenues used for research and development within pre-commercial companies are not taxed the same as revenues within profitable companies. This will ensure that startup companies in Mission Bay remain competitive for partnering opportunities and various public and private grants. We also take part in a Business Tax Advisory Group for the Mayor’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development to ensure ongoing communications. More information on the tax law can be found here.

GMO Labeling Legislation

The Cities of Berkeley and Richmond have contemplated various types of GMO legislation (labeling, banning, etc.). In particular, Berkeley spent a series of 9 months investigating the issue. The Counties of Humboldt, Marin, Mendocino, Trinity and Santa Cruz have passed ordinances banning the growth of GMOs. While a state law passed in 2014 has preemptive language for local governments, this could be changed by a follow-up bill and we need to still closely monitor attempts to mandate GMO warning labels throughout local areas.

Drug Pricing

A hearing on insurance industry practices related to special tier drug pricing was held in March by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Recent trends by insurance companies to increase co-pays for covered pharmaceuticals has effectively limited access to these drugs to patients. This hearing and other media discussions draw further local government concerns over the pricing of drugs. Further, Proposition D, which articulates a general policy statement on prescription drug pricing, passed overwhelming in November 2013 in San Francisco.

Beyond San Francisco, drug pricing is increasingly being discussed in various county government health departments and with local elected officials. CLSA will continue to dialogue with the local leaders, and provide education on how drugs are priced in public and private arenas. Our CEO Sara Radcliffe had a recent guest commentary in the Sacramento Bee highlighting our industry’s perspective, and we have developed further information on drug pricing which can be found here.

Economic Development and Industry Representation

CLSA represents the industry’s interests within numerous local business coalitions, chambers of commerce, community partners, and numerous governmental bodies. Engagement with regional economic development, transportation, housing, and similar groups allows industry to be heard on the policies discussed, while developing further community roots and stability for business. We continue this outreach as California, and the Bay Area in particular, continue to grow in economic size and population.